Also called the sea cow, the manatee is the only herbivorous mammal specially designed to live its entire life in the water. The Florida manatee is at home in saltwater, as well as fresh water, but needs access to fresh water frequently. Its forelimbs are reduced to simple paddles for swimming yet are flexible enough to bring food to its mouth. The tail pumps up and down to propel the body. Though it is streamlined in shape to reduce water resistance, the manatee is a slow swimmer, averaging a speed of about three to five miles per hour.
The Cincinnati Zoo is one of two U.S. Zoos outside of Florida that participate in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Program. Learn more.
Check the Animal Encounter schedule to see when you can interact with a manatee keeper.
How can you tell apart Betsy and Woodstock, our manatees? Easy! Betsy is more than twice as big as Woodstock.
Set up your sleeping bag right in front of the manatee tank after an action-packed evening of discovery and learning during a Sleep with the Manatees Nocturnal Adventures Overnight.
Conduct your own investigations at the Wild Research Manatee station to learn about manatees and conservation.
Educators! Participate in an Earth Expeditions course to explore inquiry-based learning and study wild manatees in Belize.